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Money, Marriage, and MadnessThe Life of Anna Ott$
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Kim E. Nielsen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780252043147

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252043147.001.0001

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Miesse v. Miesse, 1856

Miesse v. Miesse, 1856

(p.27) 3. Miesse v. Miesse, 1856
Money, Marriage, and Madness

Kim E. Nielsen

University of Illinois Press

In 1856, Jonathan and Anna Miesse divorced after he accused her of gender deviance, cross-dressing, sexual impropriety, and neglect of their children. Evidence suggests that the couple colluded to agree upon Anna’s guilt in order to divorce. For Jonathan and other husbands, accusations of sexual infamy and unwomanliness served as effective strategies. Not simply an example of victimhood, Anna left the marriage with significant financial resources in a decade in which early women’s rights activists were only beginning to prod state legislators to pass laws enabling women to own and control their own property.

Keywords:   divorce, marriage law, collusion, gender deviance, sexual impropriety, cross-dressing, women’s property laws

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